Dan Kiley and architect Jaquelin Robertson from Cooper, Robertson & Partners designed a new sculpture park for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Located in front of the museum’s Beaux Arts building erected in 1933, the park was intended to display twelve bronze sculptures by Henry Moore.
Kiley and Robertson created a grand, formal mall on seventeen acres, the axis of which frames a southern vista of Bush Creek. Broad limestone steps extend from the building’s portico and descend through lawn terraces that are separated by sloping banks, planted with Japanese yew and rows of ginkgo trees. Below the terraces, a broad central lawn is edged by parallel allées of Redmond lindens, four rows deep, which shade straight limestone paths. Vine-covered, steel pavilions act as entrances to the picturesque pine and hardwood groves on the perimeter of the allées, vestiges of the museum’s original landscape created by landscape architects Hare & Hare in the 1930s. Moore’s sculptures are set along meandering red brick walks nested within the woods and strategically throughout the formal mall landscape.
In 1994 sculptures by Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen were installed in the park followed by works by different artists, necessitating a name change for the park in 1996. In 2007 architect Steven Holl’s museum addition, the Bloch Building, opened in the eastern woodlands section of the park, featuring its five-acre North Plaza, where Walter De Maria created a large rectangular reflecting pool for his installation One Sun/34 Moons.